"It's not funny!" Dr. Paul Perito booms. "My devotion to this craft is not funny at all!"
He picks up a penile implant and angrily waves it in our face. It's a silicone rod the approximate shape of a conductor's baton. Then Perito, a slick-haired doc wearing black cowboy boots and a suit jacket over his green scrubs, asks us to feel the implant. It's the texture of a rubber snake you might buy at a science museum gift shop. The doctor tosses the jiggly rod behind him onto a stack of books and repeats, exasperated, "It's really not funny."
The events that led Riptide to this haunting encounter began last year. That's when 62-year-old Gables resident Enrique Millas filed suit against Perito, claiming a botched penile implant surgery -- the bendable rod leaves the patient erect, forever -- caused gangrene and the amputation of his member.
For a story about the suit last September -- title: "Dude, Where's My Schlong?" -- we attempted to reach Perito for comment, although he claims otherwise.
So when we heard Perito was on a whirlwind, ten-day, 29-implant surgery tour of Australia even as he's set for trial in August, it seemed like time for a followup. This time, Perito beckoned us to his office mere hours after setting down stateside, and then punished us by making us linger in his waiting room for 30 minutes, with nary a copy of Better Homes and Gardens to entertain us.
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He blames Riptide for cratering implant business throughout Miami, "besmirching" his name, making him the laughingstock of medical conventions, scaring hundreds of men from fixing their erection problems, and mortifying his children.
And though he refuses to directly address Millas's lawsuit, he tacitly blames the former patient: "I've done 4,000 of these things, and I've never seen [gangrene] before." The only explanation, he implies: Millas had sex during the three-day recovery period, when patients are instructed to keep their penises stuck to their abdomen and watch Murder, She Wrote reruns.
Defending ourselves, we bring up the time Perito was busted for, among other offenses, allegedly selling diluted AIDS and cancer drugs out of his strip club, Playpen South. He entered a pretrial diversion program and paid a $75,000 fine. Our point: Hasn't he sort of, y'know, wrecked his own reputation? This time, Perito reaches not for a rubber wand but a photo of his children. "You're going to hurt them again?" he demands. "That was a complete dismissal. My reputation right now should be exonerated."